Backing Laws For Working Women

April 24, 2019

I joined the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) as they unveiled a bluepaper on pregnant workers’ rights in Connecticut and backed legislation would update Connecticut’s laws in order to better support working women who breastfeed their children.

House Bill 7043: An Act Concerning Breastfeeding in the Workplace was overwhelmingly approved in a bipartisan vote. Specifically, this legislation would require that employers make reasonable efforts to provide a lactation room and that such lactation room:

  1. Be private, free from intrusion and shielded from the public
  2. Include or be situated near a refrigerator where an employee can store express breast milk
  3. Include access to an electrical outlet

Rep. Simmons debating HB 7043

When workplaces support women during pregnancy and beyond, more women stay in the workforce, earning better wages, and are more productive, all while lowering stress and depression among women and negative health outcomes for newborn babies. These measures will not only improve public health, but they will benefit our economy.

A McKinsey Global Institute study found that found a key way to grow our economy is to advance policies that support women in the workplace. According to the study, “...if female employment rates were to match male rates in the U.S., overall GDP would rise by five percent.”

In addition, CHRO issued a bluepaper clarifying the scope of pregnant workers’ rights at work.

Under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, an employer shall not terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee or job applicant because of their pregnancy, childbirth, or related condition. An employer must also provide an employee or job applicant with reasonable accommodations or reasonable leave, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship. The bluepaper clarifies that:

  • Workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. Pregnant employees can request accommodations so they can perform their duties.
  • Workers are entitled to reasonable leaves of absence due to disability resulting from pregnancy.
  • Workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations and reasonable leaves of absences for any pregnancy-related condition or symptom.
  • Workers are entitled to confidentiality. An employee may choose to keep any medical diagnosis confidential.
  • It is illegal to retaliate against an employee for requesting a reasonable accommodation or leave.

Rep. Simmons discussing the CHRO bluepaper

The full bluepaper is available here.